Sioux City, IA September 7, 2010

Wow! This week has been so amazingly crazy! I'm not even sure where to start typing exactly. (Possibly the keyboard....) Thank you so much for your e-mails and letters! It’s so good to hear from you. I love seeing the pictures of the family too and today I can actually send some back! Mom, your health is looking so much better! I know the Lord is blessing you for your faith. I'll keep on praying for you and you keep on improving! Sharon, you just keep getting prettier in every picture you send. No wonder you have like 1.98 billion dates. Just remember that if you date bums I'll send a punch in the mail. (Yeah, missionaries can do that.) Super congratulations to Nathan! That is so awesome that he got baptized! I love our whole family so very much and being away really makes you appreciate things. I will pray for Larry and also for Coach. That’s so sad to hear about his wife. I'm glad we have the perspective we do on death that makes life so much easier. I really love the Gospel and I get excited whenever I get to share it with people.
So this week:
Yeah, we had a pretty good storm. Not really crazy exactly, but enough. I should know because I was out riding bikes in the downpour! My trainers are both Zone Leaders and they had to go out of town for trainings this week and so I was just with Elder Pauni who has only been here 2 weeks longer that I have. We went out on bikes because the ZLs took the truck and got pretty lost. Right in the middle of the road the rain just came down and we got soaked! I actually thought it was way fun, although Pauni wasn't amused. Now I've got a good ole tracting in the rain story! This nice less-active let us in and we had a good little talk. Also, the lightning here is intense. It is starting to get pretty cool here and I'm getting worried about the weather because I'm not particularly prepared for winter weather. You may have to send me lots of stuff if I don’t leave soon... Snow drifts here get to be like 5 ft high.
So, we've been teaching the Zertuche family and 2 of the children (Christina and Jacob) were to be baptized this last Saturday. Sarah, the other one had some serious doubts and felt like God was telling her not to be baptized. We taught her about listening for answers and Gods love and then read Mosiah 18 with her about desires of the heart and baptism. She was still apprehensive and we just went on, not thinking too much about it. Then on Wed. we had a miracle happen and she called us and said she wanted to be baptized with her brother and sister on Saturday! What’s more she asked if I could baptize her! The service was amazing and the spirit was so strong. They just glowed after they were baptized and confirmed and I feel so honored that God saw fit to include me in such a great work. God really is working miracles out here and I am so thankful. We are continuing to work with the Mom and older brother and they are both set to be baptized later in the year!
Another highlight of this week was teaching a man named Wes. He has a member wife, but she is less-active and all their kids are adopted and slightly crazy. He wants to be baptized, but he has a really bad smoking problem. Last night Elder Miller and I along with an awesome Ward member named Brother Kleve taught the Church's stop smoking workshop. I've never taught anybody to quit smoking before, but I felt the spirit work through us and by the end, Wes and his wife both pledge to stop smoking immediately to be baptized in about two weeks! They will have a tough trial, but we will be right there for them. Wes Westendorf is definitely someone you could all pray for,
Last P-day we got to go on a tour of the Sioux City Masonic temple because one of our investigators is a mason and he agreed to visit the pioneer trail center if we went to the Masonic temple. Basically, it was just really weird. A lot of strange parallels to our church but in a strange way. The do have really cool hats though. We sang Spirit of God on their amphitheater stage and the acoustics were awesome! Also they had a legit full pipe organ I got to touch. Sweet!
A huge change that just happened is that as of today, I am now a Spanish Speaking missionary! The other Spanish Elder finished his mission and went home, so now I am moved from Elder Miller to Elder Burnham speaking Spanish! Aye! So far I've had 5 companions and 3 languages in 4 weeks! My head is sort of just rolling right now, but I've decided to go wherever God wants and to just smile and not worry about it. I get to meet so many great people here and I've already been on splits with the Spanish elders and I love the people they teach. I actually understand Spanish pretty well too, so chalk one up for the gift on tongues. God just blesses me so much every single day I can't even write all the cool stuff that happens. Also, this means I've changed addresses again so I wouldn't send any actual letters until I'm a little more stable again, because transfers are in a week and I probably won’t stay in Sioux City. I'm just a traveling man!
Sorry I haven't been writing in Portuguese much but it takes and little while and I've been rather short on time. Today is P-day because of Labor Day and since we had mini transfers we're running crazy today. I would just like to thank all of you for the wonderful support you've shown and I'll try to write some letters back as soon as I can. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Christ lives and this church is true. I’ve seen His hand this week and felt the Holy Ghost guide me as I work, Sometimes it seems like people just don't care about our wonderful message, but I've learned it’s all worth it for those few who are able to change their lives for the better. I am so thankful for a living prophet to give us guidance and I'm excited for conference. I know God loves you and HE loves me and He will always hear and answer our sincere prayers. I love the Book of Mormon and the awesome spirit it brings and the testimony of Christ. I also love singing and hymns and the great spirit they bring. Being a missionary is AWESOME! The work will go forward and I'm excited to help in any way I can. I love you all so much and I'll pray for you. I hope everything is going really well at home, Keep on rockin and having fun.
Elder Markham

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